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Published: July 18th 2010
Arriving at the border, we were bothered for our passports while on the platform (so, Romania hasn't quite got the hang of being in the EU yet, then) and shepherded onto an "overgrown bus, meet shed" style osobáček which took us to Debrecen. Jitka's correspondance with her friends in Liberec revealed that while we were running away from storms in the deep south, the Czech Republic was suffering from a rather epic heatwave - something we had now caught up with here. We decided that since the temperature had skyrocketed so much, for our two nights in Hungary, we should sleep outside and seek places with lakes and rivers. The first thing we needed to do was go and get a sleeping bag for me, which I needed.
This was all we saw of Debrecen, the walk from the station to a large shopping centre and back, but it looked like a nice city. One got the feeling that despite being the second largest city in Hungary, the pace of life there was extremely slow, there was an immense feeling of calm in the air, although this may have been to do with the weather. We continued eastwards all equipped
for a night's sleep "in the nature" (as my Czech students would say) to a town called Nyírbátor - one place I had wanted to visit most of all. This was the home of an old royal house in the Kingdom of Hungary, perhaps best known for producing the serial killer Elizabeth (Érzsebet) Bathory - the most prolific (by number of victims) ever to have existed.
The "Bathory Museum", which consisted of 4 rooms and a restaurant which serves everything in hilarious pseudo-royal style crockery (even my glass of coke I insisted on stopping for after trundling here in the heat with our backpacks), was interesting for its wax figures, which with a tiny bit of explanation say quite a lot. A tiny bit of explanation was unfortunately all we could get, as we don't speak Hungarian and our very patient tour guide only knew basic English. He explained the most commonly believed reason Elizabeth Bathory killed so many young women is because she wanted to wash herself in the blood of young virgins (though this isn't 100% certain), but in any case, a wax display depicting her horrific bathroom scene was on show in one of the rooms.
We got the feeling there really wasn't much to do in Nyírbátor, so we asked our tour guide directions to a nearby lake where we could swim, and hopefully find somewhere nearby to sleep. He showed us to a village called Levelek, which we reached by a bus, a train and short hitchike to cut out a straight 5km walk. As we stepped out of the car and I stopped to sort myself out with suncream and repellent, we were shouted at by some old woman who was clearly unhappy that we had stopped on the road outside her house, but like a lot of folk here, just don't get that unless someone speaks Hungarian, they don't have a last chance in hell of understanding a single word of it. Mamma mia - how I felt I was disrupting the peace as we clunked through Levelek.
We finally found this lake the boy had spoken of. It was a beach lined with a few bars and "bisztró"s like the one we'd come to in Novi Sad, but a whole lot smaller. The water wasn't exactly shimmering blue, but it was a really refreshing swim and we came out
as the place was closing feeling fresh and new. We then went for a drink and then trekked back to a place Jitka had seen under an electricity line where there was a quite hidden and of course very flat clump of trees for us to set up camp, far enough from the road. It was a nice evening aside from the mosquitos. Millions of layers of stars were visible. We fell asleep almost instantly.
Today, I regret that something happened which I don't wish to write a blog about. I will only tell you the result - Everything is not
going to plan (so that, on a conceptual level, is good at least), I am broken in every single respect aside from all limbs still being intact, Jitka is fast asleep, and we're now on our way to Košice a night earlier than planned. We're both in good health. Tomorrow night is our cue to leave on the zombie train to Czech Republic. I'm glad to be nearly home, and in the name of Hilarion, doesn't it make it clear it's been a freaking long one when Košice feels like "nearly home". Total freak shit. While I still have time though, tomorrow I'm off to do something I forgot to do last time. Kroťte se
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